Santa Monica Lookout
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Santa Monica Activists Seek Change Through Ballot Measure

Santa Monica Real Estate Company, Roque and Mark

Pacific Park, Santa Monica Pier

Harding Larmore Kutcher & Kozal, LLP  law firm
Harding, Larmore
Kutcher & Kozal, LLP

Convention and Visitors Bureau Santa Monica

By Jonathan Friedman
Associate Editor

February 18, 2016 -- Many Santa Monica residents received a Valentine’s Day greeting in their email Sunday morning from slow-growth activist group Residocracy.

Included in the email is a statement that Residocracy plans to launch its petition “very soon” to gather signatures so it can get a measure on the ballot that would dramatically rein in growth.

Residocracy head Armen Melkonians did not respond to an email from The Lookout, so it is not clear what “very soon,” means, nor is it known if the aim is to get the measure known as the Land Use Voter Empowerment (LUVE) Initiative on the ballot for this November, although that is likely the goal.

The activist group proposed the measure last fall and began seeking attention through an e-petition. The group's website says it collected more than 1,200 signatures by late October.

To get the initiative on the ballot, Residocracy must collect at least 6,500 signatures by July (although the City recommends a May deadline) on a formal petition.

Residocracy has proved it is capable of mass signature collection, having gathered more than 13,000 names in 2014 to challenge the Bergamot Transit Village development.

This forced the City Council to choose between rescinding its approval of the project or letting the residents weigh in at the ballot box. The majority of the council voted to rescind the approval.

Whether the Bergamot opposition success will translate into massive support for the LUVE Initiative is unclear.

Councilmembers Kevin McKeown and Sue Himmelrich, both aligned with the slow-growth activists and opponents of the Bergamot project, told The Lookout last fall they had issues with the LUVE Initiative.

The proposal calls for most significant planning proposals to go before voters before they can be finalized.

This includes development agreements, most developments larger than two to three stories and major changes to planning policies as well as any City “specific” plan, the zoning ordinance or land use maps and zoning district maps.

“City Hall continues to sell Santa Monica to the highest bidders,” the LUVE Initiative e-petition on Residocracy’s web site states. “The time for resident action is now!”

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